NAPPANEE – Hanna Cash was on the money Monday night. And what a better time to shine like gold.
Cash tossed a two-hitter, keeping NorthWood off balance in the batter’s box in a 6-2 Culver Academy win over the Panthers in the opening game of the Class 3-A NorthWood Softball Sectional.
Cash allowed just a single and a double by Morgan Jenkins, struck out 12, and struck out the side in order in the seventh on 10 pitches to close out the sectional win. Cash three 66 of her 85 pitches for strikes and started off 20 of the 25 batters she faced with a strike.
With Cash throwing bb’s, the pressure was on NorthWood to answer. And unfortunately for the home side, it couldn’t make the plays when it needed to.
The top of the fourth was the crucial inning NorthWood couldn’t thwart. Gracie Clark had been rolling along in the circle, only allowing one hit through three innings. But after working two strikes on both Andrea Brooke and Lilian Adams, both wound up with singles. Clark would again get ahead of Cash 0-2 before leaving one in the zone her counterpart would dump in for an RBI single.
After a sacrifice bunt moved up both runners a base, Clark again was ahead of a hitter 0-2, but Erynn Jenney would tag Clark’s final pitch off the left field wall, bringing home two runs with a triple.
“Tonight we just didn’t do the little things, bottom line, we didn’t do the little things,” said NorthWood head coach Mandy DeMien. “We didn’t execute what we needed to on either offense or defense. Culver was just the better team, unfortunately.”
Culver would sacrifice in its fourth run on Madison Miller’s first batter of the fourth.
NorthWood got a run back on a Miller sacrifice bunt that scored Morgan Jenkins from second. Jenkins took the first pitch of the fourth into center and sped into second under the relay throw.
Culver, though, would get two huge runs back in the seventh. Both came unearned on throwing errors, but the cushion with as well as Cash was throwing, was curtains for the Panthers.
Brooke had three of Culver Academy’s eight hits, and all but one batter reached for the Eagles.
NorthWood bows out of the 2019 season with a 10-15 mark, but all is not lost. The Panthers lose just one senior, Amanda Jenkins, and over half the roster are not even juniors.
“We are only graduating one senior and everybody else is back,” DeMien said. “I only had one injury and she’ll be back next year. So, we should be good to go. There are a lot of seniors graduating from other programs in the NLC and in this sectional. I’m excited to see how well we can compete going forward.”
Culver Academy (10-9) will meet Jimtown (14-9) in game two of the sectional Tuesday evening, following Knox (13-7) and John Glenn (11-14). NorthWood’s title game is set for Thursday at 7 p.m.